Antibiotic Awareness Week focus on correct use of antibiotics

17 Nov 2014 | Infection Prevention & Control

Media release from Hon Peter Dunne

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says Antibiotic Awareness Week is a chance for New Zealanders to contribute to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.

"The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a major cause of antimicrobial resistance, a growing problem that results in a microorganism (for example, bacteria, fungus, virus or parasite) not responding to an antimicrobial drug used to treat an infection," says Mr Dunne.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report earlier this year found high levels of resistance in all regions of the world, and it warned that a post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries could kill – was a very real possibility for the 21st century.

"The report showed New Zealand has a comparatively low rate of antimicrobial resistance, but there is still room for improvement and that’s something we can all help address.

"While the vast majority of doctors prescribe antibiotics only when necessary, patients should ensure they use those antibiotics correctly – taking them as directed; completing their full prescription even if they feel better; and never sharing antibiotics with other people or using leftover prescriptions."

Mr Dunne also stressed the importance of good hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant infections, both in the community and in hospitals.

"This is one of the priority improvement programmes being implemented by the Health Quality & Safety Commission in public hospitals across New Zealand. The Commission target is for correct hand hygiene practices to be used by health care workers with every patient interaction. Latest figures show that, nationally, correct practice is at 75 percent – with ongoing improvement in this crucial area," says Mr Dunne.

The Health Quality & Safety Commission is partnering with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to support Antibiotic Awareness Week, which is part of an international initiative.

The week runs from 17 to 23 November.

For more information about Antibiotic Awareness Week, visit

Last updated 17/11/2014